As usual, this week’s episode of The 252 touches several bases, including the impact of COVID-19 on college and professional sports and the historic rise and fall of boxing’s popularity. But this week we were most excited to talk to our special guest, Jason Jennings of Mortenson Construction.
In our History and Politics of Sports class, students are starting work on the first of our two planned in-class simulations. Each student group has a role to play in a city’s decision whether or not to publicly fund new NFL and MLS stadiums. Some groups will make the pitch for an established pro football franchise or an expansion pro soccer group, while others will represent various citizens on either side of the debate, leaving it to the remaining students to play the role of city council members tasked with keeping a balanced budget.
So it seemed like a great time to talk to someone who actually works on the construction and renovation of stadiums and arenas. Jason Jennings is director of strategy in the sports entertainment group at Mortenson, whose recent projects include the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas, the new arena for the Golden State Warriors, and Allianz Field, the new home for Minnesota United soccer in St. Paul. He walked us through the whole process of proposing, designing, and building stadiums, the kinds of trade-offs involved in public and private financing, how stadiums are similar to and different from other construction projects (Mortenson also builds for universities like Bethel, among other clients), and how fan expectations of the stadium experience are changing.